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16.2.11

DCist: Joyce DiDonato Lights up the Hall

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See my review of Joyce DiDonato's recital, published at DCist today:

Joyce DiDonato Fetes Vocal Arts D.C. (DCist, February 16):

available at Amazon
Diva, Divo, J. DiDonato, Orchestre de l'Opéra National de Lyon, K. Ono
For Washington listeners who love the human voice, the song recital series presented by Vocal Arts D.C. offers the most refined delights. Since its founding as the Vocal Arts Society of Washington twenty years ago, the organization's genial director, Gerald Perman, has presided over a series of triumphs: exquisite concerts of art songs and opera by the world's best singers, some of them already known and others given their Washington debuts. To celebrate, the group joined with Washington Performing Arts Society to host Joyce DiDonato for a praiseworthy concert in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall last night.

The outstanding American mezzo-soprano is known as a creature of the stage -- charming opera audiences with her disarming humor and pistol of a voice -- and for excellent recordings of Handel and other composers. She also has all the practicality and even stoicism of a Midwesterner, making it through a run of Barber of Seville in London two years ago in a wheelchair after breaking her leg on stage. Not only is she also a fine song recitalist (Vocal Arts has brought her to Washington twice before), but she keeps in touch with her fans through a blog and Twitter, even using the latter to invite President Obama to her recital. He did not take her up on it.

That was his loss. DiDonato gave a performance that was as noteworthy for its unexpected programming, with not a single chestnut until the final encore, as for the beauty and musicality of the singing. Opera scenes opened each half, plunging the listener into DiDonato's most expressive side, with the emotional pendulum swinging wildly back and forth in Haydn's Scena di Berenice, each successive state of the heroine rendered carefully in musical tone and gesture. Rossini's version of Desdemona's willow scene, from Otello, was steeped in melancholy gloom, in no small part thanks to the atmospheric accompaniment of pianist David Zobel. As the doomed heroine, DiDonato used her instrument to give the sense of terror at noises heard in the night, but could also reduce the scope of her voice to a softly glowing thread, as in the prayer that closes the scene. [Continue reading]
Joyce DiDonato (mezzo-soprano) and David Zobel (piano)
Vocal Arts D.C. / WPAS
Kennedy Center Concert Hall

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